Māori connecting with Native Americans: 'Our tribes have similarities'

HAKA Māori Cultural Experience is an interactive and immersive Māori cultural group. To celebrate Native American Month, they were invited by the Seminole Tribe of Florida to attend the American Indian Arts Celebration.

The cultural exchange is part of a partnership intended to celebrate the similarities between indigenous cultures.

Chandler Demayo, a member of the Seminole tribe says: “It’s cool that different tribes can get together and interact with each other and see there’s not really that much of a difference between the things that we do.”

“It’s good for us to share our culture and have other people’s culture shared with us because maybe there’s a perspective that we don’t see on a certain topic and that’ll help us in the long run (to) see something different.”

Te Rewha Clendon-Smallman, a rangatahi who’s part of the travelling HAKA group says the trip was beneficial because it was an opportunity to build relationships and connect with other indigenous cultures like the Seminole Tribe.

The event is a chance for the public to meet tribal members, view traditional alligator wrestling and eat traditional foods. It’s also a chance for cultural exchange where they invite different indigenous groups from across the USA and the world.

“Since being here, I have learnt that both our tribes have a lot of similarities,” says Te Waikura Walker, another rangatahi who’s part of the traveling HAKA group.

Te Waikura and Te Rewha hope that the youth of the Seminole tribe stay standing strong in their cultural identity, their language and customs.

This is part of our reo Māori series, Ohinga, created by Mahi Tahi Media, with funding from Te Māngai Pāho and the NZ on Air Public Interest Journalism Fund. Stay tuned for a new episode every week.

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